ACC Basketball: 2015-2016 N.C. State Wolfpack Preview

N.C. State Wolfpack

22-14 (10-8 ACC) in 2014-2015


Key Returning Players

  • PG Anthony “Cat” Barber
  • PF Beejay Anya
  • F Abdul-Malik Abu


  • G Trevor Lacey (entered NBA Draft, went undrafted)
  • G Ralston Turner (graduated)
  • F Kyle Washington (transferred to Cincinnati)


  • G Terry Henderson (transfer from West Virginia)
  • SF Maverick Rowan, 4-star recruit (#30 in ESPN100 for 2015 class)
  • SF Shaun Kirk, 3-star recruit




Since taking over as the Wolfpack’s head coach in 2011, all Mark Gottfried has done is consistently win 22-24 games. That’s far from an easy task in the toughest basketball conference in the land. In four seasons, Gottfried has led N.C. State to the NCAA Tourney each year, with two of those being Sweet Sixteen appearances. Despite his impressive resume, it seems as though his program and coaching acumen often get overlooked. I suppose it’s not that surprising when programs like Duke, UNC, Louisville and Syracuse garner more media attention.

That being said, this may be the year the Wolfpack take a bit of a step back. While they won’t fall off the cliff by any means, I could see a regression to maybe an 18 or 19-win season. Why? Well, I think it comes down to what they’ve lost from last year (when they reached the Sweet Sixteen). They will enter this season without three of their top four scorers from last season in Trevor Lacey (15.7 ppg), Ralston Turner (12.8 ppg) and Kyle Washington (6.8 ppg). Not only were Lacey and Turner prolific scorers, but they were terrific at knocking down key threes. Washington was an inside force and solid rebounder. These losses are masked a tad with WVU transfer Terry Henderson (11.7 ppg in ’13-’14), but that’s not enough for a team that’s currently thin on both depth and elite, incoming recruits. If the injury bug hits and the team struggles with getting into foul trouble, wins will be hard to come by. Combine all that with the fact that other middling ACC programs like Miami and FSU appear to be on the upswing and there’s cause for concern.

If there’s one player to watch this season it’s got to be junior point guard Anthony “Cat” Barber (12.1 ppg, 3.7 apg). The Newport News, Va. native (Sidenote: how much more fun would Virginia Tech basketball be if he was donning a Hokies uni?) is one of the quickest, most electrifying guards in the country. His straight-line speed and agility is a nightmare for opposing guards in all facets of the game (he’s one of the more aggressive on-ball defenders in the ACC). It’ll be interesting to see how he handles the lead role after splitting time as the lead guard with Lacey last season. The only issue I think Barber will have is not having enough scoring help and contributors around him. In the ACC, you’ve got to have more than one top-50 player (and a less-than-stellar supporting cast) to compete with the big dogs.


Schedule and Prediction

Not only can you give coach Gottfried credit for winning a lot of games at NC State, you must also give him credit for consistently developing a tough non-conference schedule (#9 strength of schedule in 2014-15). It looks like the basketball program uses the opposite scheduling approach of the football program, but I digress. This year’s non-conference schedule doesn’t appear to be as tough as last year. Their toughest challenge figures to be against #25 Michigan at home on Dec. 1st. They also must face underrated Arizona St. (ranked #75 according to in Brooklyn in late November. However, I think a few mid-majors like William & Mary or High Point could pose some problems for a team lacking depth and all-around talent.

I’ve got one word to describe the Wolfpack’s conference slate: Yikes! Yes, they get to face Wake Forest twice, but they must also face #1 UNC, #5 Duke and an on-the-rise FSU team multiple times. Not only that, but they’ve got to play #6 Virginia, #19 Notre Dame and Syracuse all on the road. On paper, I’ve got NC State going 8-10 in conference play (and I might be a bit generous there). Combined with their non-conference schedule, I think they’ll win 18 or 19 games. Heck, they may even get to 20 victories, but I think they’ll ultimately fall short of making the NCAA Tournament. Outside of Cat Barber, there are too many question marks (and not enough talent) on this year’s roster.


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